• May 6th vs. The Mariners [aka Clemens Signing Day]

    Posted by on May 6th, 2007 · Comments (21)

    Today’s date is 5-06-07…as in “five-six-seven.” Sounds like a rocket count-down in reverse, doesn’t it?

    We went to see Spiderman 3 today at 1:15 pm (ET) – it was O.K., not great, but, it was not terrible…if you’re a fan, you pretty much have to go see it. When the movie was over, and we were back in our car, I turned on the radio to catch the score of the game. It was 3:46 pm (ET). However, instead of hearing the game I heard Darrell Rasner being interviewed. “Huh?” I thought to myself – until I then heard John Sterling say that the Yankees won 5-0 and the time of the game was 2 hours and 32 minutes.

    My first thought at that moment was: “Seeing how Wang was almost perfect against the M’s, and Rasner shut them out, that tells you how bad it was that Igawa allowed himself to get lit up like a Christmas tree on Friday (against this team).” This was quickly followed by “A two-and-a-half hour game? That’s sweet for anyone who was there.”

    As we started to drive home, I continued to listen to the post-game coverage and that’s when I heard the news. Sterling said something like “You’ll want to listen to the clubhouse report from Suzyn Waldman. There’s a lot to hear about from this game…not to mention the Clemens signing.”

    My mouth dropped open when I heard that about the signing. Just this morning I was reading about rumors of the Yankees trading for a starting pitcher. This news on Clemens caught me completely off-guard.

    When we got home, I told my father about the news. (My Mom and Dad were watching the kids for us while my wife and I went to the movies.) His first question was “Is he going to get the ‘travel when you want’ deal?” (I found out later that the Yankees are granting him that.)

    We all then went out to eat and I got back home around 6:20 pm (ET) and quickly threw on ESPN. It was then that I saw how the Yankees announced this deal – during the 7th inning at the Stadium. Reminded me of July 29, 1978 – when the Yankees made the announcement about Billy Martin being rehired. Kinda show-boatie, if you ask me. But, it must have been a thrill for those at the game today.

    Funny thing is – I was supposed to be there today. I had tickets, but, I sold them to someone in my Yankees ticket group. I just had too much to do this weekend and couldn’t squeeze in the game as well. (Ron, you can thank me later. And, by the way, happy birthday!)

    O.K., here’s the part that I think most reading this want to know: My opinion on the deal.

    Back on December 26, 2006, I shared some insight on Clemens’ 2006 pitching results…and how his numbers were greatly masked by his defense helping him out last year in Houston. And, two months before that, I wrote: “I’ve had enough of Carpetbagger Clemens already.”

    However, times change. When your options after Pettitte/Wang/Mussina are Igawa and the Rookie-of-the-Day, getting Roger Clemens is an upgrade to your team. Yes, he’ll probably only make 20 starts for the Yankees this year. And, to be honest, he may only win half of those starts. And, Clemens’ ERA in the A.L. will probably be close to four this season – as the Rocket will miss facing auto-outs once every 9 batters (like he did in the National League).

    At the least, like Proctor buzzing Betancourt today, Clemens will make it interesting when Yankees batters get plunked. (I can’t wait to see him move Oritz and Manny the first time he faces Boston.) Roger will add some fire to the Yankees team, for sure. (It will be worth all the jokes around Clemens and Pettitte spooning each other on the bench during days where they’re not pitching.)

    And, the timing is good…now that the hamstring virus seems to be out of the Yankees clubhouse. Clemens’ hammies would have been a prime target for that.

    It’s a ton of money – and there’s some risk here. But, when you factor in the state of the Yankees rotation these days, it’s a good move by the Yankees (for now).

    Comments on May 6th vs. The Mariners [aka Clemens Signing Day]

    1. baileywalk
      May 6th, 2007 | 7:58 pm

      This is probably the first rational reaction I’ve seen all day. You expect the fans to overreact, because they always do, but the writers/commentators are acting like it’s 1986, too.

      Clemens isn’t going to be posting 2 ERAs in the AL. I think the worry here is that Clemens might simply be a five-inning pitcher. If he is, and he doesn’t make a huge impact with the team, then was it worth it?

      I think it’s great that he’ll work with Phil Hughes and the other young guys, but the Yankees are paying this guy almost five million dollars a month — they’re paying to get into the post-season and WIN in the post-season. Does Clemens get them there? Was all of this worth it if Clemens has a four ERA?

      I think it’s going to be really interesting to see what Clemens does, at nearly 45, in the AL.

      I guess the thing that gets to me is that everyone is treating this like he’s riding in on a white horse and saving the team. I don’t think they need it, and I don’t think he can.

      A good addition? Sure. A savior? No. I think only Phil Hughes and Wang have the talent to play that role right now.

      With this signing, it means Igawa will either be in AAA or the ‘pen in a month.

      A rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Clemens and Hughes (which it will be) is better than Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, Igawa-Rasner-DeSalvo-whoever, but by how much?

      Here’s a question: game seven of the World Series, season on the line, who do you want pitching — Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes or Clemens?

      I think it should say something that he’d probably be third or fourth on that list.

      I suppose it’s “only” money and it makes the team better, but people should probably calm down. This season still rests on the shoulders of ALL the pitchers on this team — the other starters and the bullpen. If they pitch well, they win. If they don’t, they won’t.

      (And before anyone goes nuts on me here: I’m a huge Clemens fan, I think he’s one of the greatest pitchers ever, I consider it a pleasure to have seen him during his Blue Jays stretch — the best of his career — and I love having the guy on the team. I’m just being objective. He is 45 and he wasn’t an ace in his last year in the AL.)

    2. snowball003
      May 6th, 2007 | 8:37 pm

      Be as objective as you want, but as somoene who was at the game, I have to say I was super excited.

      It could also be nostalgia on the part of Yankee fans. We all appreciate tradition, which is part of what makes us love the Yankees. So seeing someone come back to the team, and seeing a pair like Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens together is exciting, regardless of the fact that we all know that the chances of Clemens being the “savior” of the team is not much of a likelihood.

      It’s also going to be really interesting to see Clemens and Hughes work together.

    3. Joel
      May 6th, 2007 | 8:53 pm

      Say what you want, this franchise is The Greatest Show on Earth. Can you get any better entertainment value for your time and money? I was thrilled watching Clemens on my TV screen. My wife (who is not a big fan) watched this with me and was visibly moved. She naively asked, “I mean–how could anyone not be a Yankee fan?” A couple of my Yankee-hater friends said to me later in the day, “F***ing Yankees, unbelievable.”

      Clemens should be solid in the AL. I agree that he’ll probably pitch to a high 3 or low 4 ERA–but he should eat innings. I also think that you can not discount the impact he will have in the clubhouse. Orel Hershiser, a savvy commentator on ESPN (and a former big league pitching coach), said that he thought Clemens’ presence would have an effect on seasoned vets as well as young players.

      And Steve, where did you hear about the special travel priveleges? Al Leiter asked him about that on the YES broadcast and Clemens semmed to indicate that he would travel like everyone else.

    4. Joel
      May 6th, 2007 | 9:10 pm

      Steve, I just saw in the AP report about the special travel priveleges. My bad.

    5. WebmistressEMC
      May 6th, 2007 | 9:11 pm

      “At the least, like Proctor buzzing Betancourt today, Clemens will make it interesting when Yankees batters get plunked.”

      I have a question for you, Steve.

      You didn’t mention it anywhere above, leading me to think you didn’t think it was as important as what happens when Yankee batters get plunked, but you must have known…what did you think when you heard what preceded Proctor buzzing Betancourt?

      Namely, in the bottom of the 5th Josh Phelps running home from 3B and going out of his way, literally, to nail Kenji Johjima, who was positioning himself to catch a throw from the OF and not anywhere near home plate?

      Is that the Yankee Way?

      Or did you get the impression Jarrod Washburn started everything by hitting Phelps with a pitch out of pure orneriness, or replacement-level lousy pitching?

    6. dereksTeam
      May 6th, 2007 | 9:24 pm

      A white hummer with Texas plates made the turn into Bronx…the monuments shuddered and like the Pope speaking from a portico in the Vatican (even Michael Kay saw that), the word has gone forth. Our savior has arrived. Ah the naysayers will be out in full force: He’s going to be 45 in August! Hardly a savior! But for a brief and shining moment, those huddled below in pinstriped cossacks felt their fears quieted and the steely will and determination of a 76 year old owner: “We Will Take It All. This IS the greatest show on earth.”
      Here endeth the lesson.

    7. baileywalk
      May 6th, 2007 | 9:33 pm

      …those huddled below in pinstriped cossacks…

      Hmm? Were people, like, inside the skin of Cossacks they painted pinstripes on? Interesting imagery — people huddled inside the bodies of Slav horsemen.

    8. May 6th, 2007 | 10:28 pm

      ~~~Here’s a question: game seven of the World Series, season on the line, who do you want pitching — Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes or Clemens?~~~

      I was there for Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. So, I will say ‘not Clemens.’ If the game is in NY, I want Wang. On the road, probably Pettitte. (We’ve seen Moose in a couple of must win Game Fives, no?)

    9. May 6th, 2007 | 10:38 pm

      ~~~what did you think when you heard what preceded Proctor buzzing Betancourt?~~~

      I heard, on the radio, that Phelps said he regretted that play, or something close to it. He said that he was running as hard as he could, but he knew Ichiro had a gun, and, since it was a close play, and a close score (at the time), that he just wanted to be safe. Reportedly, he said, had he known all the facts about where the ball was, and the catcher, etc., that he would have probably just slid into the plate.

      FWIW, Phelps took it like a man when he was HBP, no?

      To your question “What did *I* think?” – having heard the post-game report, I would say it was a play driven by lack of knowledge and wanting to win. It was not a play driven out of being dirty or wanting to hurt someone.

      Sure, it would be nice if Phelps was an absolute moron, total space cadet, etc.,…and, then, you could just write the play off as “Josh being Josh.” But, that only works when you’re trying to justify a guy that plays in Boston. New York doesn’t get to play that card. {wink}

    10. brockdc
      May 6th, 2007 | 10:46 pm

      Overall, I don’t see this as a risky move at all. The way I see it, it’s only money – and it’s not mine. Moreover, it’s not wasteful spending, a la dishing out 50 million on a guy with suspect stuff who has never pitched in the majors before. Rocket will pay immediate dividends. And by immediate dividends I mean he’ll probably average a quality start per outing. That’s huge for this team right now. Absolutely huge.

      Also, I’m not really one for assessing guys based on “intangibles,” but IF I were, Rocket’s intagible metric would be off the freaking charts. A future Hall of Fame fireballer with a winning pedigree-who’s a bit of a red-ass? I’ll take it.

      Also, those who think that this means the end of the Phil Hughes experiment are wrong (a couple of beauties over on LOHUD expressed such a sentiment – I need to learn my lesson and just stick to Peter’s posts). Why would Cash and Torre waste such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the pre-eminent pitcher of the past two decades – with one of the greatest work ethics of all time – to mentor their premier pitching prospect? They wouldn’t and they won’t.

    11. JohnnyC
      May 6th, 2007 | 10:46 pm

      At least Phelps didn’t start a fight while wearing a catcher’s mask.

    12. baileywalk
      May 6th, 2007 | 11:17 pm

      It’s obvious that this is a positive for the team. I’ve always loved Rocket’s personality. He’ll be great to have on this team. And even at 45, he’s still a great pitcher.

      I suppose what I reacted to was not so much the man himself but the reaction he generated. The reaction was the same false sense of bravado after the Yanks signed Damon: “Oh, this is it, what a move, what a missing piece, what a way to hurt the Sox! — nothing can stop us now!”

      I just find it funny that the Yankees are paying this guy seventeen million dollars and the general consensus is that he’ll be the fourth starter ahead of a rookie. It seems like everyone is aiming low with “he’ll give us a quality start every five days” statements. Rasner could give you a quality start every five days. Doesn’t mean the Yankees should give him seventeen million.

      Well, the deal is done and it should be fascinating to watch.

    13. Josh
      May 7th, 2007 | 1:08 am

      I too was at the game today and let me tell you something: the Clemens surprise was quite a thrill. Sure, it was over the top and talking heads like Francesa have already pronounced it “hokey” but the fans at the game loved it. It caught everyone completely by surprise. I don’t think we quite realized what was going on until Clemens’ finished talking and they flashed on the scoreboard: “Attention Yankee Fans: Roger Clemens is now a Yankee”. At that point the place went absolutely nuts and there was a palpable buzz for the rest of the game. I thought it was awesome.

      $28 mill prorated is a lot of money, but there’s no way this is not a huge lift for the Yanks.

    14. Jen
      May 7th, 2007 | 2:28 am

      Yeah, it was pretty exciting, I don’t care how contrived or hokey or whatever it was. Considering how lifeless that Stadium has been since opening day (save for a couple A-Rod walk-offs) it was a shot in the arm. Timing is everything and this came at the perfect time.

    15. Don
      May 7th, 2007 | 3:24 am

      Hard to believe the Stadium has been “lifeless” that much. Certainly not Saturday while Wang flirted with a perfecto.

      Not happy with Clemens, he’s a phony who sold to the highest bidder, he could care less about the Yankees. Didn’t anyone learn that when he ‘retired’? And as a Yankee player I would resent his special accomodations; the Orioles did with Ripken. Bad vibes, etc.

      And please don’t give me this BS about Clemens mentoring Hughes.

    16. snowball003
      May 7th, 2007 | 9:13 am

      I would say it was a play driven by lack of knowledge and wanting to win. It was not a play driven out of being dirty or wanting to hurt someone.
      That’s what I’ve been trying to say. There are articles and stuff saying Phelps rammed into Johjima when a slide would have sufficed–but honestly, he saw a catcher crouching by home plate and did what he had to do to score. If he did have the ball and Phelps didn’t do what he had to do, he’d be ridiculed for that.

      As for Clemens being a “phony who sold to the highest bidder,” I am not the biggest fan of when people refer to athletes as such. Is it not the job of ANY professional to take the job that will pay them the most and give them the highest benefits? If you’re a teacher–wouldn’t you go to a school where you’ve succeeded in the past, where you will have a good salary and where you’ll have good benefits? I realize we like to think that players have loyalty to a certain team, but I’m not sure this is true for the most part, unless you’ve got a Jeter or Posada who has never played for another team.

    17. JeremyM
      May 7th, 2007 | 9:23 am

      Well, I need to relearn the art of reading body language, because apparently where I saw a bunch of Yankees giddy as school girls, others were able to see resentment and bad vibes. Anyway, Rivera is a free agent and has already asked for an extension, he’s a phony, and Posada will be a free agent as well, we’ll see where he stands or if he couldn’t care less about the Yankees.

    18. May 7th, 2007 | 9:26 am

      ~~~And please don’t give me this BS about Clemens mentoring Hughes. ~~~

      Agreed. That’s sorta a slap to Pettitte and Mussina. If Hughes can’t learn from those two, he’s not going to learn anything from Clemens.

    19. Jen
      May 7th, 2007 | 9:27 am

      //Hard to believe the Stadium has been “lifeless” that much. Certainly not Saturday while Wang flirted with a perfecto.//i

      I wasn’t there Saturday, so I couldn’t say 🙂 I also wrote that comment at about 2:30 AM so it didn’t quite come out right.

    20. Jen
      May 7th, 2007 | 9:53 am

      Guess I’m still tired, I hit post instead of preview. What I meant was the overall energy that’s usually at the Stadium hasn’t been there these past couple weeks. Yeah, there have been some great moments (Wang’s game among them), but the crowd reaction yesterday and the energy is something that had been missing this year. Every game I go to there’s a pervading “what’s going to go wrong today” kind of vibe. Yesterday was a nice deviation from that.

    21. Don
      May 7th, 2007 | 1:56 pm

      Got ya , Jen. I had a feeling you meant something along those lines.

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